WENHAM -- Gordon College has received a $75.5 million gift from an anonymous donor, the school announced Friday morning.

The gift is the largest in Gordon College's history and believed to be the largest donation ever given to a Christian liberal arts college, school officials said.

The money will be designated for the college's endowment and used to fund student scholarships.

The donation was announced during Gordon College's Homecoming convocation ceremony as part of the unveiling of a five-year campaign to raise $130 million. School officials said the campaign, called "Faith Rising," began three years ago with a "quiet phase" and is being publicly launched with the announcement of the $75.5 million gift.

The donation comes as Gordon College is facing the same struggles that are confronting many colleges, including declining enrollment due to fewer college-age students and families' inability to pay the high cost of college. In May, the school eliminated 36 jobs, cut eight majors and reduced its budget by $4 million as part of a major restructuring designed to ensure its future.

Gordon has about 1,600 undergraduate students, down from 2,105 in 2014. Tuition, room and board is $48,740. The average financial aid for first-year students is $29,000, according to the school.

The fund-raising campaign is being chaired by Starbucks Chairman Myron "Mike" Ullman, who serves on the board of trustees at Gordon College. Ullman said in a press release that the campaign "will ensure that the high school students of today who desire an outstanding Christian education can still afford to be the Gordon students of tomorrow."

Ullman called Gordon College "the flagship Christian institution in the heart of New England."

Gordon College President Michael Lindsay said in the press release that the "landscape of private higher education is changing dramatically." The $130 million goal reflects the fact that this year is the 130th anniversary of the college, which was founded in 1889.

"'Faith Rising' assures Gordon will serve our students for the next 130 years and beyond," Lindsay said.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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